Pakistan-US row ends trilateral moot in stalemate


The trilateral process between the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan failed to make any progress on Tuesday due to serious differences between Islamabad and Washington over a host of issues, forcing Kabul to express its anguish and demand an accelerated, result-oriented reconciliation process with the Taliban to curb the increasing violence in Afghanistan. US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman held a crucial meeting of the “core group” with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Afghan deputy foreign deputy foreign minister Jawed Ludin to push forward the Washington and Islamabad-backed Afghan reconciliation process between Kabul and the Taliban.
The parleys, however, failed to produce any positive results in terms of agreement between all the three sides on which Taliban group needed to be on board for the reconciliation process and which needed to be kept out of the talks. The major reason behind the failure of talks was the diplomatic row between Islamabad and Washington over a host of issues, including the latest dispute over Pakistan’s decision to impose travel restrictions on American diplomats in the country. Apart from the Pak-US bilateral differences that erupted in the wake of killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Abbottabad, another thorny issue that has been hampering the trilateral process is the US’ refusal to include the influential Haqqani network in the ongoing reconciliation process, despite both Islamabad and Kabul being in favour of talking to the militant group.
However, on a positive note, the three sides agreed to involve the neighbouring states of Afghanistan more in the ongoing efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the country. It was decided that the three nations would reach out to other Afghan neighbours, including Iran, Russia and China, to take them into confidence over the
reconciliation process with the Taliban and seek their assistance for its success.
Officials privy to the consultations said Islamabad refused to accept the US demand of lifting travel curbs. Pakistanis told Grossman that unless and until US authorities came up with a firm assurance that no CIA deployment would be made inside Pakistan without taking Islamabad into confidence and that the intelligence operatives’ activities would be known to Pakistani secret agencies, American diplomats would have to follow the new requirements. The failure of the US and Pakistan to resolve their differences over the travel curbs, drone attacks, anti-ISI slander campaign launched by some quarters in Washington and their negative impact on the trilateral forum led to a profound anguish in the Afghan camp. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ludin also expressed his frustration at the joint press conference at the end of the meeting with Ambassador Grossman and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir when he said, “I have come to Islamabad with a sense of urgency. We need to speed up this process of reconciliation and we need to make it result-oriented.” He said, “The reconciliation shall be at the centre of peace plan for Afghanistan and the whole region.” Grossman said his country supported the Afghan-led reconciliation process and the core group meeting had been useful in terms of having detailed discussions on the objectives of peace. He said the US would not repeat the mistakes of 1990s, adding that Islamabad and Washington had shared objectives of peace and stability in the region and both sides were working to achieve them. Foreign Secretary Salman reiterated Pakistan’s full support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process, saying Pakistan respected the sovereignty of its neighbouring state and would extend all possible assistance for the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan.